Offshore vessel to be converted to run on ammonia-powered fuel cell
Shiprepair & Maintenance: 1st Quarter 2020
An innovative project that plans to install the world’s first ammonia-powered fuel cell on an offshore vessel has been awarded €10 million (US$11 million) in funding from the European Union. The ShipFC project is being run by a consortium of 14 European companies and institutions, coordinated by Norway-based NCE Maritime CleanTech.
The project will see an offshore vessel, Viking Energy, which is owned and operated by Eidesvik and on charter to the energy major, Equinor, have a large 2MW ammonia fuel cell retrofitted. This will allow the ship to sail solely on the clean fuel for up to 3,000 hours per annum.
As such, the project aims to demonstrate that long range, zero emission voyages with high power on larger ships is possible. The goal is also to ensure that a large fuel cell can deliver total electric power to shipboard systems safely and effectively.
This is the first time an ammonia-powered fuel cell will be installed on a vessel. The shipside ammonia system will be supplied by Wärtsilä and will be installed in Viking Energy in late 2023. The project represents the latest stage in the long running collaboration between Equinor, Eidesvik and Wärtsilä. The three companies have already collaborated on a number of environmental projects over the years, including several LNG installations onboard offshore vessels.
Wärtsilä Norway will work on the fuel systems and any changes to the ship’s design, stability and the energy management of the vessel. Other companies involved include Fraunhofer IMM, whose expertise in fuel cell process development will assist Prototech in the development and construction of the ammonia fuel cell system.
As well as SME Persee, an expert in energy management controls, the University of Strathclyde and the National Centre for Scientific Research Demokritis. Norwegian nutrition company Yara has been contracted to supply the green ammonia, which will be produced by electrolysis and delivered to Viking Energy by container, to enable easy and safe refueling.
Another part of the ShipFC project will perform studies on three other vessel types, to illustrate the ability to transfer this technology to other segments of the shipping industry. The three test cases have led to North Sea Shipping, Capital-Executive Ship Management and Star Bulk Ship Management also being part of the consortium.
NCE Maritime Cleantech chief executive, Hege Økland, says that this retrofit project represents another step in the right direction as shipping seeks ways to utilise new technologies and fuels to decarbonise.
“Ammonia is an abundant energy source and can easily be made from renewable resources making it one of the fuels that will likely meet part of shipping’s future energy demand,” she adds.